Live blogging election day

9.29pm

There’s only half an hour to go.  I’ve just had a call from a journalist who says Boris Johnson’s campaign thinks they’ve got it in the bag here is still half an hour left for you to vote for Ken and keep the Tories out. 

This is the final post for this live blog today – thanks for keeping up with the campaign, especially if you helped out on the streets for Ken.

8.49pm

In some areas Ken’s supporters are really turning out. In Edmonton turn out was so high that one polling station ran out of ballot papers. This was sorted out quickly but showed a very high turnout in a strongly pro-Ken area. This shows that if you turn out you really can make a difference and Ken can win.  There’s only one hour left, so if you haven’t voted yet, its not too late.

7.31pm   

Ken was campaigning through the rain for an hour or so earlier but he’s literally under a rainbow now! Surely a good sign.

The Tory campaign have just sent out their fourth mass email of the day warning their supporters that Ken’s campaign are working hard to get voters to the polls. We can win this election if all Londoners who want a successful city head to the polls.

Go and vote, then text give friends to remind them to do the same. 

7.06pm

There are just three hours of voting left.  All the reports we’ve had from right across the city say that voting has been brisk.  But it’s both Tory and Labour areas where turnout is high. 

It’s so close that Ken needs every single vote.  Don’t risk four years of Boris Johnson as your Mayor – go and vote.  You have until 10pm tonight to do it.

If you’re not sure where the nearest polling station is, LondonElects has a handy way of finding out here.

6.49pm 

Ken is now out in Harlseden with local supporters and MP Dawn Butler. Lisa, who is with Ken says that there is loads of attention and people taking a picture on their mobile phones (see below). 

Nick, who’s still out campaigning in Camberwell says that the campaign is strong, but turnout could be a bit higher. 

The Standard, which is no friend of Ken’s, says there is a whisker’s difference between Ken and Boris, so every single vote is going to count.

6.41pm 

The Evening Standard, which has been continuously smearing Ken and carrying stories for months declaring huge Boris Johnson leads, has now been reduced to claiming in its final edition front page headline that “Boris ahead by a whisker”.

They are still trying to claim Boris Johnson is ahead of course but the reality of all the Evening Standard’s lies is now clear: if Ken’s supporters turn out he will win.

Take the time this evening to vote for the tolerant London we love and against the divisive Evening Standard and its candidate Boris Johnson.

6.30pm 

Just back after a quick run out to my local tube in Brent.  Despite the drizzle, the reaction was great.  Lots of people said they were on their way to vote for Ken right away.

5.59pm

After walking up Stoke Newington high street – with almost every shop having a campaign poster in – Ken has now left cheering supporters and kids who had just finished their school day and were very excited to see Ken in the flesh. Ken and the campaign team with him are now heading to Harlsden in Black Cabs trailing purple balloons!

One supporter has sent in a great picture below.  We can make sure it is Ken who wins this race – its not down to luck, its down who turns up to vote.  Please urge all your friends and family to get down to the polling station before 10pm.

5.28pm

Tory blogger Iain Dale has shown exactly what the Johnson campaign is all about on his election live blog with an astonishing outburst against “idiotic feminazi Guardian harridans who still hanker after the muddy delights of Greenham Common”. 

His rant was in reference to Zoe Williams of the Guardian, who reminded her readers of why not to vote for Boris Johnson in this morning’s paper.

As Zoe says, we know what London is, and Boris Johnson isn’t London. Iain Dale’s tirade is yet another reason to get out and vote.

5.16pm

Reports from Labour areas such as Walthamstow continue to be good but a report on the Guardian website confirms that turnout seems to be high right across London not only in Labour but in Tory areas.

But reports from areas where the BNP is strong in East London, however, also indicate they have a hardened vote. This was already shown in pre-election canvassing and turnout shows it is continuing. 

It’s absolutely vital for every single Ken supporter to take the time to vote – it’s what will decide the election.

4.50pm

Fantastic picture of Ken and local campaigners over on Luke’s blog here.  Really looks like great numbers of supporters are coming to help the campaign remind people to vote this evening. You can join them – find your local campaign office here. 

4.11pm

Tories are coming out to vote today.  If you don’t want Boris to be Mayor for four years, if you want to Ken to keep London moving forward, you need to get involved.  If you can, contact your local office and help knock on doors, leaflet and tell people to make sure they vote.  If you still at work, send all your friends an e-card urging them to go and vote this evening.

4.01pm

Ken has just been out and about in Tottenham with the local MP David Lammy. They were popping in and out of local shops and restaurants, with people crossing the road to shake hands with Ken.

The campaign team say that Ken was making good use of people waiting for a bus to warn them they could wake up under Boris tomorrow!

They left to a chorus of cars horns, with even buses beeping and passengers waving.

3.49pm

On Conservative Home, Boris Johnson supporters are saying that the turn-out is high among their supporters. One says ‘I’ll be on the GOTV trail in Finchley tonight. The association there seem to be doing a great job.’ Another from a north London campaign office says ‘All our supporters are turning out. Busy polling stations.’

All the evidence suggests that the turn-out is up across London – among Tory supporters as well as Ken’s. In these circumstances we need a massive push in the next few hours to really get out the vote. Go to the events page to find out how to help, and make sure everyone you know who backs Ken is voting.

3.04pm

According to this Guardian blog, transport expert Christian Wolmar has added his name to those opposed to Boris Johnson becoming Mayor.

Christian says: “It would be an utter disaster having someone like Johnson as a figurehead for London – humiliating for all of us. Just imagine what he might have said after 7/7, for example. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”

Mind the gap …… in live blogging – I am heading from Westminster back home to help get out the vote, but will carry on posting reports as they come in once I am off the tube.

2.49pm

Dan, who’s in Chiswick campaigning there, has emailed us this great picture of a local shop.  He says campaigning is going well there, with voters really positive, and turnout looking like it will be higher than in 2004.

2.26pm

Lisa, who is with Ken on the campaign trail has just texted me:

“Ken has arrived in Tottenham where he’s doing a walk about meeting voters.  He has been stopped by loads of voters wishing him luck and there are plenty of car horns beeping in support as he goes.  It’s all really encouraging.”

The election is going to be close – so second preference votes will really have an impact.  The London Paper has printed a really useful guide.  Have a look at it here.

2.14pm 

Mary from Walthamstow has called in again and said that when Ken toured Walthamstow market – Europe’s longest – he got a really enthusiastic reception from shoppers of all ages and communities – a supporter sent the picture in below.

One woman ran up to hug Ken, telling the crowd that had gathered round him: “We don’t want none of that joke Boris Johnson, we just want Ken”.  One market stall holder, selling fresh fish to shoppers told Ken he’d vote for him later in the day, as soon as he’d finished working.

1.36pm 

Theo Blackwell, a Labour councillor in Camden tells us that there has been brisk voting in Haverstock, Camden Town, St.Pancras and Regent’s Park so far today. In other good news, there has been no Tory leafleting in the area and according to Theo, local Lib Dems have been urging voters to back Ken as their second preference to make sure the Tories don’t win.

Theo has a blog, which you can read here.

1.23pm

All the reports we’ve had in so far confirm that turnout is high.

Ken Livingstone campaign organisers are reporting high turnout in areas of strength such as Islington, Kentish Town, Walthamstow and Lewisham. Tory blogger Iain Dale is reporting high turnout in Tory areas such as Pimlico, Fulham and Bromley. We’ve had confirmation that it’s the same in Bromley.

It’s going to be tight – every vote will count.

1.11pm

From Kentish Town we’re told that voting has been very brisk this morning and is still steady now despite the middle of the day often being quiet at elections.

One Ken campaigner on the ground has emailed: “People we have knocked up know that it’s a very important election and the promises for Ken are good. There’s a steady stream of volunteers working and everywhere has been leafleted.”

The news is really encouraging.  But if you’re reading this at work, there is something you can do to support Ken from where you are.  Please send an e-card to your friends right now:


1.04pm

Following the Guardian’s fantastic four pages saying why Boris Johnson must not be elected, from individuals ranging from Vivienne Westwood and Alan Rickman to hip hop artist Ty and Dave Rowntree of Blur, the Standard has now published a number of new endorsements of Ken.

Among those who’ve come out for Ken are violinist Nigel Kennedy.  And Terence Conran backs Ken with a second preference for Sian Berry, saying ‘Ken stands head and shoulders above the others and is by far the safest candidate.’
12.55pm

Teams of Ken supporters are out in Walthamstow according to Mary who’s campaigning locally.

She says, “we’re getting a great reception from commuters piling off the buses and on to the Tube.  Ken went for a quick lunch at Walthamstow’s finest waffle house ‘Eat 17’ (melon fresh smoothie and red berry waffles) and is now back on the street – kissing babies!”

Haroon Siddique is live blogging for the Guardian today and has kindly linked across to us – his blog is well worth checking out.


12.32pm

Victoria from the campaign team has just called in – Ken is on his way to Walthamstow market to meet voters. 

They’ve been in Stratford this morning where the response was very warm reception. Ken got the Tube there and then went to shopping centre where he met shoppers and workers – Victoria says there were hundreds of pictures taken.

When Ken was speaking to journalists, staff at Starbucks came out with cups of iced mocha’s for the thirsty campaigners.

Ken and the team jumped into black cabs to head for Walthamstow.

12.18pm

The Evening Standard has just arrived and the Standard’s own readers’ panel – who’ve been following the campaign throughout the last six weeks – have by a majority come out for Ken.

These readers have interviewed all the main candidates, and after examining the policies and the personalities, they have disregarded the Standard’s extraordinary campaign against Ken, and voted 4-2 for Ken to be re-elected. One reader goes for Sian as their first preference, and second preferences Ken – so its a 5-2 win really.

Emma Priestley, who says she’ll first preference Ken, and give her second vote to Sian says, “From speaking to all three candidates, Ken is the best guy for the job. I like Brian a lot, but I don’t think he’s got what it takes, while the thought of Boris Johnson being Mayor sends a shiver down my spine”.

12.04pm

Labour blogger and councillor Luke Akehurst emailed in from Hackney just after I’d posted the last comment, but its worth adding in.  He says, “I have about 20 people out knocking up already, Stoke Newington high street has sprouted lots of purple posters. We’ve had reports of queues at some polling stations.”

11.45am

The Londonist blog has an excellent post urging voters to vote today.  From speaking to people across the city, it sounds like turnout is going to be high everywhere. 

In Kentish Town, they’ve had a “flurry” of people through the polling stations, while in Islington people are saying things are very steady.  An email from Nick in Camberwell has just arrived too, and he says the response this morning was great.

Ken will be on course to win this election – but only if turnout is high.  Everyone who wants this city to keep moving forward has to take ten minutes to cast their vote today.

11.27am

The LondonPaper’s John Dunne (pictured with Ken below, from this morning) is blogging election day today too.  He’s just posted on the paper’s website that Ken is being mobbed by voters in Stratford this morning wishing him luck.

11am

Last night, PoliticalBetting.com reported that the Evening Standard would publish an opinion poll today suggesting that Boris Johnson was leading the election.  Ken’s campaign sent a statement to the Standard, which is worth reading.  It’s here.

10.40am

The papers make good reading for Ken supporters today.

The Independent has come out for a vote for Ken, suggesting that readers give their first preference to the Green candidate Sian Berry, and then cast their second preference to ensure Ken wins re-election.

Supporters of other candidates are also urging a second preference for Ken.  Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem’s candidate in 2004 has suggested a second vote for Ken.  According to the ever excellent Dave Hill, Hughes said, “Nobody who has not served London and worked for London in the past deserves to have the votes of Londoners or the top political job in London in the future.”

And last but not least, the Guardian’s G2 supplement is an absolute must-read today.  The article’s intro gives a flavour of what is to follow: Zoe Williams and other Londoners imagine what it would be like if this bigoted, lying, Old Etonian buffoon got his hands on our diverse and liberal capital”.  Click here to read the whole thing.

9.40am

Ken voted an hour or so ago.  The picture below is Ken speaking to a huge number of reporters and photographers outside the polling station.

Ken was in a fantastic mood – especially so as we walked past dozens of houses with “Vote Ken” posters in the windows.  Speaking to reporters who have covered the race, they all agreed it was really too close to call either way.  One just said “it’s down to whether you [Ken’s supporters] work harder than they do”. 

7.20am

Today, we will be posting reports here from the across the city as Londoners head to polling stations to cast their votes.  In this election, there is a real choice, and Ken has hundreds of supporters out across the city leafleting tube and rail stations reminding people to cast their ballots for the candidate who will keep moving London forward.

Ken needs as many people as possible to get out and campaign for him today, but you can still help out if you’re not able to volunteer. Click here to send your friends an e-card >>> 

Ken’s campaign team will be updating this page throughout the day, so keep checking back.

Matthew, Ken’s campaign 

Friends of the Earth give Ken 9 out of 10

Leading environmental group Friends of the Earth has said that Ken is the greenest candidate in the Mayoral election, giving him nine out of ten.

Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper says, “He is one of the few British politicians to have shown genuine leadership on green issues and put London at the forefront of efforts to tackle climate change. His manifesto is full of exciting plans to go even further. Of the three main candidates for London Mayor, Ken Livingstone is the greenest.”

You can send friends an e-card highlighting Boris Johnson’s opposition to the Kyoto Treaty by clicking here>>>

Boris backer slams 24hr Freedom Pass

Boris Johnson unveiled a new backer today, Brian Cooke from TravelWatch.  Cooke used the opportunity to launch a bitter attack on Ken’s plan to make the Freedom Pass for older and disabled Londoners valid for 24 hours a day.

In statement published on Boris Johnson’s campaign website, Brian Cooke called the 24hr Freedom pass “plain daft”, and “totally crazy”.  These comments make it clear that a vote for Boris Johnson is a vote people like Brian Cooke who say the 24 hour Freedom pass is a “mad idea”.’

In a new twist, Johnson’s campaign team have tried to cover up the truth by removing Brian Cooke’s comments from their website.  But you can still read the staggering comments in the press release

Ken campaigns in East London

Ken spent yesterday afternoon campaigning across East London.

After appearing on BBC 1’s Politics Show, Ken headed for the 30th Anniversary of Rock Against Racism – love music hate racism carnival in Victoria Park.

Despite the dreary weather, there was a massive crowd of tens of thousands of people – loads of whom had ken stickers and badges on as well as ones promoting the need to beat the BNP on May 1st.

Ken met some old friends from the trade union movement and made some new ones with some of the performers like Jay Sean.

Later in the day, ken was whisked off to Altab Ali park near Brick Lane for a Londoners4Peace rally organised by leading figures in the anti-war movement. The speakers included Tony Benn, George Galloway and Vivienne Westwood.

They have all joined together to support an anti-war mayor being elected in London.

The campaign has reached a frenetic pace because the election is neck and neck. Every vote will count and you can join Ken in his campaign.

Question Time highlights choice for London

Question Time, broadcast last night on BBC1, showed that after weeks of the hardest fought London Mayor election campaign since the post was created, the bottom line has really become, who is capable of leading London?

People across the city watching QT last night will have seen a clear answer.  Whatever individual issues or disagreements with him, the only person who is a remotely serious candidate to lead London as the best city in the world is Ken Livingstone.

Others can crack jokes or score individual points, but they are not leaders of our city.  Ken showed that in this important debate.

If you watched Question Time and want to support Ken, there are lots of way to join the campaign.  Sign up for email news and alerts, join a campaign activity, or donate a few pounds.  Any help you give will make a real difference – the election is neck and neck, the time to join Ken is now.

Mayor of Paris in London

Bertrand Delanoë, the Mayor of Paris, has travelled to London to help Ken kick off the final weekend of campaigning.

After arriving on the eurostar at St Pancras this morning, Ken and Bertrand campaigned in Islington, on Upper Street, and then held a press event in Westminster, with lots of press – especially French media based in London – turning out to ask the two Mayors about their work together.

Bertrand Delanoë ended his opening remarks at the press conference by endorsing Ken: “I think London needs a serious Mayor, because it is a very serious job”.

The two Mayors are now off to an event for French expats in London, so we’ll write more later on today.

Don’t forget – don’t leave the campaigning to the Mayor of Paris, join in now.  The election is neck and neck and just a few hours of campaigning by you will make a real difference.

Open letter to Lib Dem voters in London

Ken has published an open letter to Lib Dem voters in London setting out the values they share with him, and how he has worked to deliver on policies that Lib Dem voters want. Read it here…

Shared values for London

Liberal Democrat supporters in London, like all Londoners, will face a choice on May 1st.  

They obviously think their party’s policies are the best of any but in the end there will be a choice of who is Mayor for the next four years between Boris Johnson and myself. This will be decided by second preference votes of people giving their first preferences to other candidates.

The second preference votes of Lib Dem supporters are likely to be critical in deciding the outcome of this election.

Both Boris Johnson and I will be campaigning to persuade Lib Dems to back us. My pitch is simple – I agree with about 90% of Lib Dem policy and I want to involve Liberal Democrats in my mayoral administration.

In contrast Boris Johnson disagrees with many fundamental Lib Dem policies and has been highly disparaging of Lib Dems in the past, whom he referred to as having ‘a characteristic human psychological deformity’:

I do not pretend that I share every single Lib Dem policy but on 90 per cent of issues we agree and we are part of the same progressive tradition in London. And that set of shared values shines through in the many areas where we agree and where we have worked together.  I am publishing examples of these areas of agreement because it highlights how we can work together.

On most of the key international, national and London issues my positions and those of the Liberal Democrat Party have been the same. Particularly important have been opposition to the war in Iraq; support for the Kyoto climate change treaty and prioritising environmental policy, opposition to tuition fees; support for Proportional Representation; opposition to Tube privatisation, support for higher charges for polluting cars; opposition to nuclear power.

My pledge to Liberal Democrat voters if I am re-elected is twofold. First, that I will continue to deliver on the policies and values that we share. Second, that I will operate an inclusive administration which includes the talents of Lib Dem politicians and supporters.

The choice between Boris Johnson and myself could not be clearer.

Let’s work together to ensure that all Londoners share in our city’s continued success.

Ken Livingstone

Ken thanks supporters

Ken has emailed his supporters to thank them for their work during the elections.  Read the email below:

Dear friend,

I am writing to thank you for your contribution to the Mayoral election campaign.

Obviously we did not win, but what was achieved in a very difficult national context was remarkable.

Overall my first preference vote increased by 208,239 – 30 per cent, over 2004 – increasing in every GLA constituency except Bexley and Bromley. In the context of Labour’s lowest national vote for some decades that was a remarkable achievement.

In the London Assembly Labour actually won an additional seat and performed better than the national average. In the Mayoral context, I polled nearly 14 per cent more than the Labour vote nationally and nine per cent more than Labour in the London Assembly who themselves polled above Labour nationally.

That achievement of our campaign could not overcome the scale of the swing to the Tories throughout the country and in some London constituencies, notably Bexley and Bromley, Havering and Redbridge and West Central.

The swing to the Conservatives was assisted by the collapse of the Liberal Democrats in London, in part due to the conservative nature of their London Mayoral campaign.

It is noteworthy that a number of parties to the right of the Tories notably the BNP polled much higher in the Assembly list than in the Mayoral vote, suggesting that some of their voters voted tactically for Boris Johnson. The BNP got 61,004 votes more in the Assembly list than in the Mayoral election, for example.

In the City and East division there was actually a 2.9 per cent swing to me in the Mayoral election.

Overall, with more than a million votes the election showed a powerful progressive alliance in London.

There is no doubt that the new Mayoralty will inaugurate decline and division.

I hope you will therefore share my view that progressive London should remain organised and ready to face the challenges to come – including a general election.

Yours sincerely

Ken Livingstone

Ken in the Guardian

Ken has written an article for the Guardian analysing the results of the elections.  Read the article below…

Yes, I lost. But still Labour must learn from London

Forget left or right turns. The party needs to put itself at the forefront of a progressive alliance that can inspire the electorate

By Ken Livingstone

As I can testify, May 1 was a bad day for Labour. But in London the party did better than nationally, and I believe there are some general conclusions to be drawn as we prepare for a general election.

Nationally Labour’s vote fell by 2% compared to 2004, but in London the percentage of first preference votes I received in the mayoral election went up very fractionally. The increase in the absolute number of votes was striking – up by 220,000, or 30%. There was no Labour “stay at home” factor in London. Four years ago I polled 10.8% ahead of Labour nationally – a week ago this increased to 13%. I received slightly more second preference votes than Boris Johnson. On the London assembly Labour made one net gain.

We lost in London. But in the context of very bad national results, Labour’s results in London were the best for any major area of the country. What lessons can be drawn nationally, and what to do next in London?

Following May 1 some people are posing the choice as between moving “to the left” or “to the right”. This is not the right question. Labour must place itself at the centre of a progressive alliance that can solve the problems facing the country.

What are the key elements of this? There are three tasks for a government and a mayor – to ensure the country and London are an economic success; to ensure everyone shares in that success; and to ensure that success is sustainable in the long run through improving the environment.

Labour’s campaign in London gained major support from business. The Financial Times concluded that the majority of big business in London supported my re-election. There is no way to check that, but I know from meetings that very large sections of big business supported my campaign.

This is because they understand the need for large strategic investment, which only the state can provide. In London much is physical infrastructure. Tube modernisation, Crossrail and the Olympic games each cost £1bn a year. But the same principle applies elsewhere.

Another part is “soft” investment – ranging from skills through to promotion in key new markets such as China and India. Labour should say to business, as we did in London, that the private sector and the market will not automatically provide the scale of investment required – the Thatcher experiment in London brought the city’s infrastructure to its knees.

The need to ensure that everyone shares in success is an immediately comprehensible issue for the electorate, and one where the difference with the Tories is stark. There is not the slightest evidence that “trickle down” – the automatic operation of the market – is a sufficient mechanism to ensure everyone shares in success or to deliver decent services. In London the shattering contrast, within a mile’s distance, of the wealth of the City of London and the poverty of Tower Hamlets shows this brutally. But even relatively prosperous middle-class areas of the capital require decent public services to provide transport, policing and environmental protection.

In London, without national powers of taxation, we intervened to ensure that all shared in the city’s success: by, for instance, insisting that the Olympics, with all its infrastructural development, be located in the poorest boroughs of east London; by massively improving bus services – the transport most used by poorer Londoners – and introducing free travel for under-18s on the buses; by campaigning for the London living wage; and by deciding that 50% of all new housing in the capital must be affordable housing. These policies were right and were the underlying cause of that huge increase in turnout for Labour on May 1 in London. In the poorest part of east London there was actually a swing to Labour.

On the environment, London positioned itself on the cutting edge of the fight against climate change. London chaired the C40 group of the largest international cities on climate change, and its climate change action plan is recognised as one of the most advanced of any city in the world. Numerous major environmental writers in Britain preferred my re-election on May 1. The importance of the environment and climate change is only going to increase; whatever the short-term mood due to economic shifts, Labour must command the high ground on climate change.

London, under a Labour mayoralty and a Labour government, became recognised as the most successful capital city in the world. We introduced new social programmes, helped sustain a cultural life that was the most dynamic in the world, cut racist attacks by more than half in eight years, and led the way on climate change. The new London administration represents decline – economic, social, cultural, and environmental. In 2012 Labour must return at the head of a progressive administration and restore London as the number one capital city in the world.

One important development at this election was a formal agreement with the Green party calling for second preference mayoral votes for each other. This benefited the Greens – who added 40,000 votes and maintained their share of the vote and existing number of London assembly seats – but also aided the high turnout and Labour. Had I been re-elected I would have given Green nominees a central role in my administration.

In contrast, Lib Dem failure in London was massive. They chose to stay outside the progressive alliance of Labour and the Greens. As a result they failed even to reach double-figure support in the mayoral election, and their London assembly seats fell from five to three. Hopefully this suicidal orientation will be reversed in the next four years.

Amid the worst electoral defeat for 40 years, even Labour’s best electoral performance in the country could not stop London entering into a period of Tory decline. But as that decline proceeds, a new progressive alliance will be forged, which will go on to regain its position and restore London as the greatest capital city in the world. I’ll have plenty of time to do some very welcome gardening – and to participate in that resurgence.